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WASHINGTON – A new report finds that Americans are more concerned with rising health insurance premiums than terrorist attacks. According to the 2003Annual Employer Health Benefits Survey recently released by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Health Research and Educational Trust, 66% of employees reported being “very worried” that their income might not keep up with rising prices and that their health plan would be more concerned with saving money for the plan than about what is the best treatment. Only 8% were concerned with being a victim of a terrorist attack. The survey also finds that private health insurance premiums increased 13.9% in 2003 marking the largest increase since 1990. Although employers are not dropping coverage, most are passing on higher costs to employees. Over the past three years, the amount of the premium employees pay for family coverage has increased almost 50% from $1,619 to $2,412. The typical family health insurance policy now costs $9,068 with employers on average paying 73% and employees paying 27%. In addition, employees now pay on average $508 per year toward the premium for single coverage. Experts say that the rise in insurance costs may be one reason why companies aren’t creating new jobs or giving their current employees raises. “It’s becoming harder for workers to know how much they will have to pay for their health care. It’s not enough just to look at the premium increases from year to year, this year workers are facing higher expenses across the board in terms of higher co-pays, deductibles, and even cost-sharing for hospital visits,” said Gary Claxton, vice president/director of the Health Care Marketplace program for the Kaiser Family Foundation. “There’s no indication that premium increases are peaking. It may not be 14% next year, but I don’t think anyone should think it’s going to be 3 or 4% either.” According to the survey, some 96% of employees face a co-payment or coinsurance for physician office visits, 86% are in a tiered prescription drug plan and 44% also face a separate deductible, co-payment or coinsurance averaging $200 per admission for hospital stays. The survey was conducted between January and May of 2003 and included 2,808 randomly selected public and private firms ranging in size from three to more than 300,000 employees. This is the 16th year this survey has been conducted overall. [email protected]

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